Pittsburgh Newborn Session: Baby Snuggles and Sibling Troubles

I know full-well the struggles families face when welcoming a new baby home. I am a first born and have been told how much it rocked my world when my little sister came along and I’ve been able to witness it all over again with my oldest son as well. It’s really tough for some kids and when it’s tough for a kiddo, mom and dad are feeling it too. We have this crazy mix of emotions wanting to love on the new baby and protect our big kids from feeling left out. I’m sharing all of this personal experience because this darling family had a big sister who had mixed emotions about her baby brother’s arrival like so many of the older siblings I’ve photographed during newborn sessions. I guess you could say, a photo shoot has a way of bringing it all out and I’m sensitive to that.

baby snuggles

I have a few things I like to do to help older kids feel special. First, I like to say hello and build a little rapport. And if they’re willing, I take a moment to photograph big sibs all by themselves or with a parent so that they don’t feel like it’s only about the baby. Then I ask them to kiss the baby and give them a lot of praise for being a good sibling.

big sister kissing the baby

big sister giggles

And on this particular session, the big sister wanted to wear mommy’s lip gloss and her mama approved, so we captured this sweet and funny moment. Luckily, mama had make-up wipes on hand!

wearing mommy's lip gloss

Now that we could check off this very important family portrait, I could shift my focus to this sweet baby boy.

dad and son

mama and baby

Really love the sweet simplicity of this bright-eyed boy on his mom and dad’s bed. Congrats to this precious family!

baby on mom and dad's bed

North Park Family Portraits: Staying Positive When Kiddos Won’t Smile

This darling family got out early on a Saturday morning in their bright whites, looking altogether adorable. And when this sweet girl wasn’t feeling it during the first attempts at a family portrait, mom and dad stayed positive. And that is so important in setting the tone for a session. We tried a few things to engage her and found something that worked!

family portrait warm-up

She really liked playing the “who’s got your nose?” game. And we went with it. We were tossing noses back and forth and the kids were having fun. Sometimes she needed a break as all two-year olds do, so her dad turned her upside down and the giggles commenced.

little girl taking a fun break with dad

And it’s worth mentioning that most kids go through phases where they are trickier to photograph and eventually come around to see that it is fun. They realize that the session will result in images of them and with that understanding they are curious about the end result. This older brother was really enjoying the photo shoot and was also so good about encouraging his sister.

big brother by the lake

So charming!

handsome close-up of this little boy

And here are some favorite shots of this little lady enjoying having her photo taken.

perfect little lady

I love how she’s posing here. No one would know she didn’t feel like having her photo taken earlier.

little girl sitting pretty on a chair

To keep the fun going, mom brought a wagon and dad pulled them around.

riding in a wagon

When people ask me about props, I love incorporate functional things can make a session fun, like wagons, books, bubbles or balloons. This family portrait is that much more fun with the wagon!

family portrait with kids in a wagon

This mama also brought a picnic blanket and it’s a good thing because the ground was really dewy that morning.

family portrait on a blanket

I love using back-lighting and overexposing for good detail on the faces of this family portrait. It’s the little things that can separate a photographer from an iphone!

family on a wooden bridge

These kiddos were so good and did such a great job, so we ended this session with some fun on the playground.

fun on the swings

I just love seeing the joy on her face. Oh to be two again!

a joyful way to end this session

Family Lifestyle Portraiture: Document Your Family On a Fun Outing

My family spent the 4th of July at Moraine State Park and Lakeview Beach and it’s been a while since I’ve photographed my boys, so remembering to bring my camera was just as important as remembering to pack the picnic basket!

On the lake at Moraine State Park

We rented a pontoon boat on Lake Arthur and had a terrific time cruising around the lake.

Taking in the sights at Lake Arthur

I love this mischievous smile.

Love it when he smiles like he's about to be mischevious

Our nephew came along with us and is so good with our boys. And they adore him!

my nephew hugging my littlest

Then we headed to Lakeview Beach for some swimming, because when you’re little, you can’t go on a boat and not swim in the water! That would be a terrible tease.

Getting acquainted with the lake

With nap time looming, this little guy was primed for a solid afternoon nap. Lots of fun and sun will wear a little guy out!

Giggles before nap time

I love capturing days like this and hope to do more of that on our upcoming vacation. I have over a year’s worth of photos like this to print and I’m going to make that happen this winter. It’s funny that I’ve gotten so far behind in filling our albums with 4×6 prints, because I’m slightly neurotic about being able to go back and look at these moments. And if you’re someone who hasn’t made regular prints of your family, I urge you that it’s never to late to start and if you’re overwhelmed, just back up your current digital files and start making batches of prints from your new captures each month. With digital photography, we’ll have a lot less to look back on and pass down to our families if we’re not diligent about backing up and printing these precious memories!

Cranberry Newborn Portraits: Scheduling the Best Time for Your Baby

When parents first come home from the hospital with their baby, they’re often unsure of the best time of day to schedule for newborn portraits. If the delivery didn’t have any complications and they get to come home two days later, they haven’t had much opportunity to get a feel for their baby’s best time of day. And with days blurring into nights, it’s hard to really think straight (at least it was for me.)

sleepy baby in gauze swaddle

So when my clients call to set up their session, I most often suggest mid-morning, keeping in mind that I’ll be using mostly window light. The afternoon works as well, and it really depends on the family’s best time of day. If you’re not a morning person, then it makes perfect sense to go for the afternoon.

mom, dad, and baby by the window

What’s more important than the time of day, is that the baby starts the session right after a feeding. So if you’re following a feeding schedule, that can be helpful to consider when scheduling.

alert baby

With lifestyle photography, there is no pressure to make sure the baby is sleeping or awake, lifestyle sessions are aimed at capturing baby
and family in their natural state. Although, it’s best if parents are awake! And some mamas have a preference of sleeping vs. awake and most of the time babies will do both within the time of the photoshoot.

baby feet

Really love seeing this little daring in the dress with the huge bows at her shoulders!

baby in crib

Here’s a shot from this couple’s maternity session. They are going to be such great parents!

pregnant mom and husband

Mars Family Portraits: Scheduling for Your Best Time of Day

There are two ideal times of day for outdoor portraits when it comes to finding the best light: early morning and early evening. And depending on the time of year, your family’s makeup and routines, one of those times will be much better than the other. In the summer, I might suggest as early as 7 or 7:30 a.m. and I know that sounds like madness at first, but for some families with young children it makes a lot of sense because kids can wake up well before then. Plus, it’s still cool and the kids are still well rested. As a mom myself, I can say hands down, that my children are at their best in the morning. I’m sure that’s not the case for all little ones, but I think it generally applies to most children. And with my children, they’re less consistent in mood and behavior closer to dinner time, so for now, we are best photographed in the morning. And from a photography standpoint, the shadows are more spacious and open shade is where I like to spend most of my time photographing families because the light is even and soft. You really want to have the light coming from a low angle, behind or from the side, just not from above like it would at noon, causing squinting or shadows in the eyes. And for a warm, sunny look, it’s nice to use the sun as a back light in the early morning or at sunset.

cranberry area portrait

But for the most part, I look for open shade, because kids like to move around a lot and I can focus on capturing the moment rather than having the distraction of continually adjusting my exposure in the changing lighting. On overcast days, lighting is a breeze just about anywhere and we have a lot of days like that in Pittsburgh, but you can’t count on it, so it’s best to plan for closer to when the sun is rising or setting. And if your family is not made up of morning-people, then early evening is your best bet. It is really the better of the two best times of day, because shooting into sunset, the light gets prettier and prettier, where as shooting after sunrise, the light gets increasingly harsh as the sun continues to rise. But that’s not to say that you can’t capture great portraits in the morning.

Another trick I like to use for little ones on the move is to bring chairs. Not for their form, but all for function. When you have the right sized chair, kids will sit for a bit, and this was the perfect way to keep these darling two-year old twins off of the wet grass and stationary enough to get them looking at the camera at the same time. Plus, their mama’s trick of singing Happy Birthday with some fun variations got them giggling and we all started cheering for them and what a good job they were doing and it was like magic!

twins portraits

We walked around their neighborhood in Mars, Pa., and stopped at the community playground for some candid shots on the playground. This is such a natural opportunity for lifestyle photography. Love the smiles when kids are at play.

lifestyle photography at the playground

It’s unscripted, pure joy at this age!

photographing kids at play

And we walked back to their home for some portraits in front of their front door, which happened to be in open shade.

family photo at the front door

After getting some great shots of the family, we brought in their dog for a few. What a sweet family!

family with dog

family portrait with pet

And if you’re not sure what time of day, suits your family, give me a call. Sunset and sunrise changes throughout the year, so there’s a wide range of times depending on the season. I’d be happy to help you figure out your best bet!